A young cancer patient donates his birthday gifts to 'Kids of Steele' | Community Spirit
A nine-year-old, who has been battling acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) is showing just how generous he can be, by donating his birthday gifts to fellow cancer patients at UA Steele Children’s Research Center.
Larry Ronstadt knows from experience how receiving a toy while hospitalized or receiving treatment at an outpatient clinic can brighten a day. That was one of the reasons why he asked for birthday gifts that could be given to other children, who were also coping with illness; donating these toys to the Kids of Steele program, a family auxiliary of the University of Arizona Steele Children’s Research Center.
Since December 2011, Larry has been fighting ALL, enduring several stays the University of Arizona Medical Center-Diamond Children’s and monthly treatments at pediatric hematology-oncology outpatient clinic. So, while most children dream of all the cool gifts they might receive on their birthday, Larry had a different dream for his big day.
“As Larry’s birthday approached, we talked about all he has and how much he has received,” said his mom, Tiana Ronstadt, in a recent news release. “Larry said, ‘I want to have my friends bring gifts for the kids at Diamond Children’s. I loved getting something when I was there and would like to do that for someone else.’ So, Larry asked his friends to bring gifts that could be given to children coping with illness.”
Tiana and Larry explored options for donating the birthday gifts, after making the donation decision, and ultimately chose Kids of Steele, because they were holding a toy drive the same day as his birthday, May 18, and the Ronstadt family had participated in other events that supported Kids of Steele in the past.
After his birthday party, Tiana and Larry drove the gifts to the Kids of Steele toy drive. “As we approached La Encantada, Larry began feeling overwhelmed,” recalled Tiana. “I reassured him that it was going to be quick, fun and wonderful. Larry said, ‘Mom this is hard because I know what it’s like and it’s weird to be on this side, doing the giving.’ I reassured him that life is about giving and receiving.”
When they arrived, Larry was greeted by players from the UA football team who were volunteering for Kids of Steele. They thanked the 9-year-old for his generous donation. “The players were friendly and gracious,” said Tiana. “Larry had fun interacting with them.”
“At first I was nervous to deliver the gifts,” said Larry. “But then I felt great and happy.”
His pediatric oncologist, Brenda Wittman, MD, assistant professor of pediatrics at the UA College of Medicine – Tucson, was delighted to hear of Larry’s kindness. “He is always thinking of other people,” she said. “Larry is full of spunk and has a wonderful sense of humor. He cracks me up—it must be his red hair,” she said with a laugh. She continued, “What’s so inspiring about Larry is that he doesn’t let leukemia rule his life.”
The 9-year-old’s generous gift was also recognized by Ben’s Bells, an organization dedicated to promoting kindness and community. In a June 19 surprise ceremony, Larry was ‘belled’ by the organization.
“I was thrilled with Larry’s decision to donate his birthday gifts,” said Tiana. “My husband Jeff and I strive to instill stewardship values in our children. Both Larry and his sister Mia continue to amaze me in their generosity, kindness, happiness and joy. We are blessed to be their parents.”